How to Test Your Email's Functionality

Three ways to troubleshoot email that's acting up

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Not getting messages you expected? Others not getting messages you sent, or not seeing your formatting correctly? An email address is worth nothing if it isn't working, so knowing its operational status is important. Use one or all of the methods listed here to test your email program, SMTP server, and email address.

Method #1: Send Yourself Mail

The first and easiest way to verify that your address is usable is to send yourself an email message from the same address. Be aware, however, that the effectiveness of this method is limited. Email services and servers may bypass much of the email delivery process for messages to recipients at the same server.

Method #2: Sign Up for Free Email

You can also send yourself a message from a different email address if you have more than one. If you don't, it's easy and free to set one up with services such as Google and Yahoo.

To test an email address, send a message to the one you're testing from an independent mail service—for example, from a Yahoo address to Gmail. The caveat here is that, unless you already have a secondary email address, it might be more trouble than it's worth to set one up.

Method #3: Use an Echo Email Processor

Echo mailers provide a testing solution that's both elegant and practical. A message sent to an echo mailer is bounced (or echoed) back to where it originated. The message contains some system information, along with the complete original email with all header lines in the body. This makes spotting possible errors or oddities easy.

Echo mailer bounce message

Echo mailers to try include: